MANHATTAN (CN) - Emphasizing the much stricter standards to which New York holds its public school teachers, the state’s largest teachers union filed suit to vacate the “watered-down system” adopted this week for certifying educators in 167 charter schools.
“Among other things, in terms of education, the regulations would eliminate the need for a teacher to ultimately achieve a master’s degree or even, it seems, achieve bachelor’s degree,” the complaint states, filed on Oct. 12 in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Given force on Wednesday by the Charter Schools Committee of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, according to the complaint, “these regulations significantly undercut the quality of teaching in SUNY-authorized charter schools by permitting insufficiently prepared individuals to educate large numbers of high needs students beyond that which is already allowed for by law.”
“Further, they would have the effect of leading potential educators through an essentially fake certification process, one not valid for employment in New York’s public school districts, other charter schools, or the public schools of other states,” the complaint continues.
Joined by Local 2 of the United Federation of Teachers Local 2, the New York State United Teachers union filed its lawsuit alongside a pair of teachers who work for two of the 167 charter schools authorized by the SUNY board.
They are represented by Latham-based attorney Robert Reilly, Adam Ross for the United Federation of Teachers, and the firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.
Central to the complaint is the claim that the SUNY Charter Schools Committee is restricted to oversight and lacks authority to adopt regulations.
“The commissioner [of education for New York] has the sole authority to issue teaching certificates and to promulgate regulations for teacher certification – for all teachers,” the complaint states.
After the committee’s end-run this week, the commissioner and the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents called their regulations “an affront to a critical tenet in education: rigorous and high-quality teacher preparation programs foster high-quality teachers who increase the likelihood of students achieving proficiency on state standards.”
Representatives for SUNY have not returned a request for comment.
The teachers’ union says the committee began touting “less rigorous teacher certification requirements for charter schools” this past July, its limited authority notwithstanding.
As adopted on Oct. 11, the regulations in question include an “increase in the number of hours of instruction required, a decrease in the number of teaching experience hours required, and the addition of a single examination,” according to the complaint.
The teachers’ union says these rules were finalized despite last-minute changes that were not subject to the proper notice-and-comment period.